Graduate stories: Emily Skyrme

Hi, I’m Emily Skyrme and I am one of LANS’ most recent graduates having graduated with a Class I with Honours BA Liberal Arts and Sciences (Music Major) in July 2018. 

Emily SkyrmeThroughout my time at university I studied six different subjects, changed my major twice and have a degree that is completely unique. At times my subject and module choices seemed quite random, but looking back, my choices have made more sense than I ever realised. I have a keen interest in the arts and management, and have been able to combine both interests in efficient and exciting ways.

I am extremely thankful for the Birmingham Liberal Arts and Sciences programme, as I never knew what I wanted to study at university, nor did I have any clue about what profession I aspired to end up in. This degree programme has given me skills and experiences essential for my future. Furthermore, it has given me an extremely competitive edge when looking at employment.

With more people going to university now than ever before, it is not necessarily enough to just have a degree and know you’ll get a job. Employers have the pick of hundreds of people per position and so you’ll need to stand out – and LANS students do. We have that depth of expertise and breadth of knowledge that perhaps others haven’t had the opportunity to develop. We have the experience of going abroad for a whole year – uprooting yourself and succeeding in another country and another academic system. We understand that education is not just oriented around the class room – it is rooted in every cultural event and society that we take part in. And in a world where jobs are constantly evolving and advances in technology create completely new jobs, employers want graduates like us.

In September, I will be starting my new job as a Graduate Area Manager with Aldi. After a one-year training programme I will have managerial control of between 3-5 stores. I applied for this job in Easter and after a five-stage application process (written application, psychometric tests, video interview, group assessment centre, one-to-one interview with regional manager), I received my offer of employment in June. I am one of about 80 people from 30,000 who got the job this year. And the first questions I got asked in my interview? “What exactly is Liberal Arts and Sciences?” and “Why, with a major in Music are you applying for a managerial role?”

I have been very lucky throughout my degree to be in a position where I can take on new challenges or have had opportunities offered to me, alongside studying. I joined the music society, was part of the group who founded the LANS society, worked as a waitress at uni, joined the sailing club on my year abroad (I couldn’t sail at all at the time), gained an internship with a professional Australian orchestra, managed my host university’s orchestral tour to China when abroad, played club hockey, was a student ambassador and student representative, and gained an internship bursary from the university. In my interviews, most of the time was spent talking about these experiences, the skills I gained from them and how they could help within a new job.

I applied for over 30 jobs and had multiple interviews before being successful in this role. Whilst I can’t yet talk about the professional world after LANS, I do have a couple tips which I hope will help any LANS (or prospective LANS) student during or after your degree:

Know why your LANS degree is impressive

  • What specific skills/expertise/experiences do you have? (and practice talking about it in an interview setting!)

Work to build up a large extra-curricular base of experience

  • Whether it’s an interest in a sport/hiking/music/theatre, paid or voluntary work experience

Seek out every opportunity and take it!

  • Your year abroad might be an ideal place to do this – try something new

I have no idea what the long-term future has in store for me. I am extremely excited to start this new part of my life, learning about the ins and outs of my favourite supermarket (!), and gaining skills and experiences that will be vital no matter what I do next. I might move on to work in another area of management, another industry or even open a cake shop (as I dreamt of when I was 3). What I do know, however, is that I have given myself the best possible start and have no regrets.  The last four years have been crazy – lots of ups, some downs and it’s all been extremely busy.

So, thank you LANS and the staff who made it all possible. This degree truly is like no other - fellow students, make sure you make the most of it! Soon you’ll be having to pay tax, have just 30 days holiday a year and be adulting for real…